that’s the last time i think out loud

Wow. Okay, so a can of worms I never meant to open. I’ll try to briefly clarify my feelings about AWANA, except that I don’t really have them all sorted out yet. Please know that I absolutely never intended to offend anyone–not for one single second!

First of all, it’s not just AWANA (do y’all mind if i don’t capitalize it every time?) that’s in question. It’s awana PLUS all the other stuff. I was talking to a friend at Bible study today, and we were discussing how much to volunteer at church. Right now, I’m facilitating a Bible study group on Thursdays, teaching cubbies on Wed. night (that’s the plan right now) and I’m a parent helper in Children’s church roughly once every 2 months. But I’ve also been asked to do a lot of one-time things like the sexuality seminar, marriage foundations panel, fully engaged class. I’m just afraid of saying “yes” to too many things.

And what about hospitality and witnessing and soccer and volunteering at school and writing and speaking..?

Back to awana. I enjoyed it last year, for the most part. I love the kids. It was great to get to know them and their parents. As a mom, it wasn’t as much fun. It was like pulling teeth trying to get my girls to memorize their verses. And the tough part was getting my family fed and out the door in time. Traffic is horrendous where I live, and it can take 30-40 minutes to get to church on a bad night. Awana lasts until 8:00, then I stay until all the parents arrive, drive home with cranky and/or hyper kids, no time for bath, in bed late, and everyone’s whiny and exhausted. Then we’re all up early to leave for Bible study from the bus stop the next morning. (Back to the balance thing.)

Let me just say that all awanas are NOT the same. It really depends on your church and the leaders and how many kids you have and all that. Our church is big, so there are tons of kids. Smaller might be more ideal. More one-on-one interaction with kids. Without criticizing anyone, I felt there was a lot lacking in our Cubbies program last year. Lots of filler stuff, not a lot of depth.

I love the fact that the kids memorize Scripture, but unfortunately, my girls don’t remember much of what they learned. They have to go through it so fast, and Livi especially felt the pressure to stay up with everyone else. Part of that failure to retain is my fault. I didn’t work with them nearly enough. And I didn’t try hard enough to make it fun.

I haven’t answered a single question, have I?

Here’s the bottom line: Like many of you mentioned, I need to spend some serious time in prayer and ask God what’s right for OUR FAMILY. We want to be in His will for US. If we do awana, it’s because He wants us to. If we don’t, it’s because He closes the door.

My comment about awana was really secondary to the primary issue in my life at the moment. What does God want life in the Gabe Taviano household to look like at this point in time?

I’ll let Mark Buchanan (The Rest of God) explain what I mean:

    Sit with Jesus until you hear from him what he would have you do–sit some more, visit the aging, teach Sunday School, or clean your desk. Or, maybe, cook the lunch. And then put your hand to the task, Martha-like, and do it with all your heart, Mary-like.
    That’s best.
    In that, you’ll find your joy.

I want to find my joy. And I want it to be in HIM. Love you guys!

20 thoughts on “that’s the last time i think out loud

  1. angntug

    That is an amazing quote and one to live by! Thanks! Our family loves Awana, but it takes us 3 minutes to get to the church, our neighbor girl goes, Miss Mary teaches, and it’s practically one-on-one every week, and a church we don’t even go to :). The soccer thing doesn’t work for us and Awana’s it for us. Soccer is the rushed activity that left us out of that joy spectrum, lol. Why is balancing so difficult sometimes?!?

  2. SuperGirlAmelia

    I decided years ago that I had no interest in being the church lady. We are rather tired of the church “machine” and constantly “doing church,” and are focusing more on being. It’s revolutionized how we live. Praying you find the balance for your family.

  3. amber_nicole86

    Amen, Marla! Thanks for the quote from The Rest of God at the end of your post, too. I have read that book numerous times and have found the Lord continually convicts me about doing and not just abiding in Him. Praying for you and Gabe!


  4. gsowell

    Thanks for sharing more about this, even if it was a wormy little can you opened . It helps me as we look at Awana at our church for the long haul. We are still in the honeymoon phase where all are happy to be there and to see what God’s doing. [Our church had 105 in Sunday morning church last week and 95 for Wednesday evening Awana/youth group/adult Bible study! That’s awesome!]

    I think it’s important we are conscious of the time factor. We have several families who drive in from another county (25+ minutes). That is a lot on a school night. We have lots of community kids coming whose parents don’t help them at home. We need to make them feel successful.

    And I totally sympathize with the what to say no to. Right now, I am Sunday School director, newsletter editor, bulletin maker, temporary adult SS teacher, Awana games director, and a member of the children’s sermon team. And I was going to scale back some at this new church! Ugh. I need to do the same soul-searching you are!

  5. Anonymous

    I just want to tell you how many times I smiled saying “quappy” to myself while I mopped floors and cleaned rugs and runners.  Ummm… quite a few!  🙂

    It sounds like clappy too.  Somehow it made me feel like I was having joy in my “quappy” situation.  lol… I’m still smirking just thinking it… ‘quappy…quappy’  hehe

    I’m still working on sorting my thoughts on this WHOLE subject for my blog.  I got down and dirty and searched for all kinds of verses yesterday.  It’s actually a couple of topics that need sorted and tackled separately.  But it’s helping me to see where we (my family) need to make choices, and how we’ll go about that.  Still praying for ALL of us ladies in Christ who just want HIS heart running our families and schedules!

    I must say, Marla, I’m falling for your little world here.  These are some great souls here you’re connected with!  Thanks for letting me (anyone) tap in and draw from this little well of encouragement!

  6. terriwright

    There was a part of me, when the boys were young, that dreaded church, because it seemed I was in charge of everything! I was a young enough Christian that I hadn’t learned the importance of ‘no’. As I grew and matured, the freeing knowledge that I didn’t HAVE to do all that quap really began to help me deepen in the Lord. Now – – –  I do what I believe God fitted me for. There will be someone else for the rest. And if not, then it wasn’t in His will to start with. “God will make a way.”

  7. ch1pch0p

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to start an awana controversy. It just completely stressed me out as a kid — sounds like for the same reasons as your girls and you.

    I’m excited for tonight, too! Ava didn’t think I just wanted to see Livi play, did she? Of course, I want to cheer for her, too! I loved being at the game on Tuesday, and I can’t wait to watch Ava play tonight!

  8. FlyingCAB

    yeah wow – awana from a parent’s perspective is a lot more duanting!  I just remember memorizing verses, getting patches and playing alot of fun games!!  I think you are really wise to be evaluating what works for your kids and family.  My best friend didn’t do awana growing up cause it conflicted with other scheduling….It’s definitely not a one size fits all program. 

  9. KmHunsberger

    I think somoene needs to grant you at least 2 free hours at Barnes and Noble with a good book, silence and a macchiato Girl…definitely praying that God will work all of this out in your mind and provide peace, joy, and clarity of thought. You sound so overwhelmed lately that my heart hurts for you. Hang in there.

  10. faithchick

    I love the awana program, but as we drove away from church on wednesday night at 8:35 after the bambina’s first night of Puggles (the new group they have for pre-cubbies), I realized that we’re in for it.  It’s all the pre and post awana things that are overwhelming.  prayer meeting was hard enough over the summer (7-8), but trying to be there at 6:40 and getting the kids in bed afterward is a lot!

  11. mrsnorthern8605

    Honestly, until I met Drew, I had never heard of Awana…in fact, I still don’t get it. LOL! Anyways, I hope that you do figure out what is right for you and the family. I am sure that God doesn’t expect you to be involved in EVERYTHING, although, I know for me atleast, I can feel that he wants me to or I am not a good Christian. Maybe that comes from all the pressure growing up! But anyways, I hope you find peace in this situation and we still owe you and Gabe (and of course the girls) a dinner! 🙂

  12. ClutzyButtercup

    Amen sister!  It is so important that the Taviano family be and do what God has for them.  Our family has made many decisions over the years that resulted in people thinking we didn’t “like” something or we weren’t “supportive”…fortunately, I have to answer to God not them.

  13. bekisue

    I must have missed the entire awana talk. I think you do need to do what is right for you. And I think you are looking in the right direction. I’ll pray for you and your family right now.

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